Jake Lahne

Spice Hunting: Asafoetida (Hing)

'S actually a giant plant related to carrots, fennel, and parsnips, which, while it can grow quite tall, is not a tree. According to Harold McGee, it's harvested by scarring the top of the tap-root, which can survive for many years with this treatment.

The Food Lab: A New Way to Cook Pasta?

I think the system ate my previous attempt at making this point, so I'll try again (and hope it doesn't reappear later and make me redundant),

"Since a burner puts out energy at a fixed rate, your pot will return to boiling temperature (212°F) at the same rate no matter how much water you have. Indeed, since a large pot of water has greater surface area (and thus more places for it to lose energy to the outside environment), it may actually take longer to bring a large pot of water back to a boil."

How can this be right? Specific heat capacity is governed by mass (its units are J/kg*K, i.e. energy/(mass*temperature change), and so the difference in times is explained by the difference in the masses of water. A pot with more water boils more slowly because it has more water in it. While heat loss through evaporation may play a role, the mass of water itself is very important.

This comment has nothing to do with your conclusions - pasta with less water sounds good to me.

The Food Lab: A New Way to Cook Pasta?

"Since a burner puts out energy at a fixed rate, your pot will return to boiling temperature (212°F) at the same rate no matter how much water you have."

Can this possibly be right? Physics has always been my worst subject, but I believe that we calculate the change of temperature of a body by using the specific heat capacity of that substance, which is dependent on mass - its units are J/(kg*K), that is, amount of energy in joules required to raise a mass in kilograms by a number of degrees in Kelvin. Thus, since your burner is putting out energy at a fixed rate, shouldn't it take longer to heat the pot with twice the mass of water (i.e., the 6 quart pot)?

I think a better explanation is that, while the smaller pot may lose more heat energy to the cold pasta, it will return more quickly to boil precisely because it has less water in it. Or am I getting my physics terribly wrong?

Gadgets: Fine Edge Pro Knives by J.A. Henckels

It's worth noting that at least the more expensive Henckels knives include a bolster: the thickened metal section where the blade meets the handle. Ostensibly, the bolster provides stability and protection from hand-slippage. Practically, as someone who has cooked intensively for years, both professionally and not, I can say that the bolster really makes no difference, except in one critical area: if you make serious use of your knife, and thus sharpen it frequently, the inability to remove metal near the bolster while sharpening will eventually cause the curve of the knife to reverse itself, so that the knife can no longer make smooth, rocking cuts. At this point the knife becomes worthless.

The bolster is often created in the forging process, and so is absent from many stamped knives (including the Global line - my personal favorites - and the Forschner knives, which are consistently well-reviewed and cheap as hell). If the cheaper Henckels knives lack the bolster because of the stamping process, they are probably a better buy; the steel used in the more expensive Henckels is fairly soft anyway, so their edge retention is not great, although, on the flip side, the soft steel makes putting an edge back on that much easier.

Serious Cheese: Why Goat Cheese Pizza Lacks Stretch

According to a local cheesemaker, goat's milk can make fantastic mozzarella. I'm going to try to make some myself when I can get my hands on some not-too-expensive milk (during the spring, when the goat's are giving milk, I imagine). When I say chevre, I'm talking about fresh goat's cheese, which is acid-coagulated, rather than rennet-coagulated. Other goat's milk cheeses that are coagulated with rennet, like Midnight Moon, which I have seen used in fondue, melt just fine, although they are not as stretchy as mozzarella because of the lack of kneading.

Cook the Book: Ad Hoc at Home

Black Dog Smoke and Alehouse, Champaign IL

How to Wrap and Store Cheese

@ryansm: I've never had any particular problems with Pecorino Romano or other hard cheeses smelling up my fridge - that problem usually comes from soft, washed-rind cheeses like Red Hawk or Epoisses. Very aged cheeses are certainly lower moisture, so you could probably store them in a closed container or a closed bag, maybe with some loss of cheese life-time (they last quite a while anyway), but I would still recommend wrapping them in a non-plastic material first, so as to avoid flavor migration from the plastic. Try out the wax paper and see if you're still having problems with fridge odor.

How to Wrap and Store Cheese

The post which Dana McCauley linked to also points out, quite rightly, that blues should be stored away from other cheeses. I didn't even think to mention it, but it is definitely worth emphasizing that blues need to be kept separate. The Penicillium spp. that live on blues are quite aggressive, and will be happy to grow on other cheeses if you let them, which may or may not produce good results.

How to Wrap and Store Cheese

@dongale: That's a pretty good way to keep the cheese, especially since they leave some of the rind exposed, rather than wrapping the whole cheese in plastic. Refrigerated storage can cause cheese to dry out rather quickly, since the air is usually dehumidified at the same time as it's cooled, so it's worth asking if you can taste any particular cheese that you're interested in to make sure it's still appealing. A cheese shop should be happy to give samples, and since they're cutting the cheese to order (which is the best way to keep the cheese fresh - a good sign) they are used to getting the cheese out and handling it anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Cook the Book: 'Mad Hungry'

@Marshmallow: to defend and agree with @thedilletantista, I have to agree that the description makes it sound like a) men don't (and shouldn't) know how to cook for themselves and b) a certain way of eating (messily, in large quantities, constantly) is "manly", while other ways of eating are, implicitly, not.

It brings gender into the kitchen and into eating for no reason, and is kind of offensive to people who don't want to fit in the boxes it defines.

Serious Cheese: For Cheese Dip, Toss the Velveeta and Try Welsh Rarebit

@double0: I apologize! I should have written "cheese, grated", since re-reading it, it seems as if I might be implying pre-grated cheese is ok to use, which it isn't, since it's not going to taste as good (ever). Even so, Velveeta, being a "cheese product", is excluded.

Serious Cheese: Going Beyond the Boring Cheddar, Brie, and Blue

@cheesenbread: Have you seen this guy's website? I haven't tried making any aged cheese at home, but he has very detailed and friendly instructions for a number of them. I love his walkthroughs.

Serious Cheese: Going Beyond the Boring Cheddar, Brie, and Blue

@schmonsequences: What a cool idea on the part of your local cheeseshop! I've never actually tried matching dry vermouth with cheese, but Dolin vermouth, which I believe has it's own AOC, is quite nice. It's pretty widely available, and can be bought on the interwebs here. I'd also recommend Stone's Original Green Ginger Wine, which is a sweet fortified wine made with ginger and currants. It's super British, and really good with almost any cheese; I especially recommend it with very salty or funky cheeses.

@gastronomeg: I'm actually originally from Maryland (Takoma Park what), and Firefly makes some pretty good cheese!

@The Rowdy Cowgirl: I'd love to talk more about it, but the really short summary is: store cheese wrapped fairly tightly (but not suffocatingly) in wax paper, and try to eat it within 3-5 days, because the fridge is very dry and the cheese will probably turn hard pretty quickly. Avoid plastic wrap because the cheese will mold (not the good kind) and absorb plasticky aromas from the wrap.

@Peggasus: I have not been down that way, so I'll have to try to get there. It sounds really cool. Have you tried Prairie Fruits Farm's cheese? I love their stuff.

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